Day 5: Moroccan Steak Tartare and saffron Ali Oli

What I really came to admire in Paris is the influence of Moroccan food and culture. Every market had a few stalls purely dedicated to buckets of olives and preserved lemons, spices and teas. By today, I had really come to understand more about French food and I wanted to create a cultural twist on the classic French tartare.

 

 

I started by chopping up the fillet steak, discarding any sinew and extra fat. Although the piece I picked up didn’t need much pruning at all.

I moved on to the capers, one baby onion, Moroccan olives and parsley.  I mixed everything in a small bowl with a pinch of chilli, smoked paprika and saffron and a teaspoon of mustard. I added a squeeze of lemon for tang and set it aside for a moment while I made the ali oli.

Ali Oli in Spain is the process of emulsifying garlic and olive oil. A potent mixture of bitter olive and spice from the garlic. For this particular Moroccan version I wanted to add a few strands of saffron for that amazing siena tinge. I’ve always loved the aroma of saffron and the colour it bleeds is even more satisfying. 

We sat where we have sat every day these past five days and ate overlooking the streets of Paris while watching the sun give way to purple and pink skies sinking into black. Last dish in Paris and I felt like it was just all the beginning!

 

Day 4: All’uovo Pasta with brown butter, chicken livers and sage

This dish had been waining on my mind since I got to Paris! I could see it so so clearly, how it looks and how it tasted, what went where and why each component was so important. The chicken livers however were not the easiest to find! But when we finally found some, I was so excited to get into the kitchen to get my flavours and visualisations on to the plate.

One of my great loves is rolling pasta. I just love it. I could do it all day. Theres nothing like that silky thin sheet you achieve from kneading the dough just right and the rich yellow from the most perfect French eggs.

For this particular dish I wanted to roll out sheets that would fold and drape over and beneath the livers and brown butter sauce. Once the pasta was drying on the rack, I moved onto the livers. I trimmed them and set them on some paper towel to soak up the extra moisture. In a hot pan I browned some butter with a few fresh cloves of garlic, added more baby onions and a handful of sage until they were coated in the butter and started to crisp up. I turned the heat down a little and then added the livers seasoned with salt and pepper to where I could see contact space on the pan. I turned the livers once to keep their juiciness and basted with the bubbling butter.

The dish was finished with a sprinkling of pickled capers, fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon and pepper. It was missing a few good shavings of parmigiano but no matter.. duly noted for next time!

Day 3: Roasted Sea Bream and a Zucchini, Artichoke and Pea Gazpacho

It was time to eat the fish. And the way I love to cook sea bream is pan fried for that signature golden crisp and then lightly roasted to cook through. The baby sea bream had a really supple and sweet flesh so I wanted to keep flavours simple to bring that out. If you can't tell by now, I love lemon, olive oil and black pepper in the Summer so naturally, that also went on the roasting pan with the fish. 

For the Gazpacho, I had peas and some artichokes left from yesterdays meal. So I blitzed them up with raw zucchini, lemon juice, some rind and parsley for a green gazpacho side dish. I added some water to loosen up the cold soup and let it chill in the fridge before serving. This made for a perfect remedy in kicking that debaucherous city heat.

As soon as the fish was ready I coiled some butter over the crispy skin. The butter melted into the flesh instantly and I tore some dill over the top for a pop of its signature flavour. On the table we shared some crusty french bread with more of that salty and creamy butter. We ate in the shade by the balcony and lounged post meal from the delight of satisfaction... also it was just toooo hot to move!

Day 2: Summer Barigoule with a creamy boiled egg

In researching for this little project I came across a few French dishes I had never heard of before. One being Barigoule. Barigoule is a French casserole of (traditionally) artichokes, carrots, shallots and bacon braised in wine and water. It is typically a peasant dish but has evolved and been adapted many times for eating all year round by everyone. So I thought I would also try my hand at this classic Provencal dish by turning it into a warm Summer salad!

 

 

Inspired by the green of asparagus, peas and parsley from the market alongside the colourful root vegetables, I thought it would be perfect to pare my version of artichokes a la barigoule with a creamy egg and an assortment of my finds for a brunch dish.

I trimmed and soaked the artichokes in lemon water before adding them to my broth of butter and white wine. Once the sauce reduced to a runny caramel colour, I added thyme for fragrance, some halved baby onions and a squeeze of lemon to loosen up the sauce. I used potatoes, carrots, peas and asparagus to accompany the artichokes by searing them off in a pan and roasting until tender and a little crispy.

Once the artichokes had absorbed the white wine and butter sauce, I rested them on the tray with the rest of the vegetables. The last component before plating were the beautiful French eggs I also became obsessed with. Two eggs into cold water, brought up to a simmer for 4 minutes gave the perfect creamy yolk. The artichokes lay in a criss crossed pattern against the beans and asparagus and the carrots added a wonderful pop of orange. I added some thinly sliced zucchini and the egg lay on top. I spooned over a little of the sauce and the onions from the pan and garnished the dish with parsley, dill and a good amount of salt and pepper. 

 

 

 

 

Definite French flavours of creamy butter cut with white wine and the the acidity of lemon. It was a little warm for the hot morning but the flavours took me to complex French flavours and made me appreciate the process of slow detailed cookery.

Day 1 : Roasted Octopus, baby onions and lemon

The cooking started right away on a Sunday after circling through Richard Lenoir Market multiple times. One of the first items that caught my eye were a set of octopus tentacles. A cluster of four huge long limbs glistening near the entrance of the market that as I mentioned before, changed everything I had initially set out to cook. I love using octopus because it is simply delicious and deliciously simple! Why overcomplicate a good thing?! For a summer dish, I love to roast octopus in a little olive oil with lemon (although naturally I did do a little more than that!). And since it was a blazing with heat in Paris, I tossed together a fresh and chunky tomato salad with parsley and lemon for a side.

On one burner I set a pot of water seasoned with stalks of parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns and olive oil to a boil. On the other I had a saucepan on medium high heat and added a spoonful of butter and three cloves of pickled garlic. Olive oil splashed into the pan next to ease the butter from burning. Then the small baby onions (I was obsessed with!!) tumbled into the pan and I swirled to coat them in the foaming butter. The onions sat over the heat to char and caramelise and I returned my attention to the tentacles. The tips of the limbs touched the water first and then the rest of the octopus eased into the water. As soon as the ends sprung up in curls and the legs blanched for a minute or two, I removed it and lay it on a lined baking tray. A generous sprinkling of pepper and a good swig of olive oil drizzled over the tray while I squeezed a segment of fresh lemon over the mix. I bruised and threw in some lemon rind and then poured over the baby onions to rest in the grooves where they would roast for the next hour and fifteen minutes.

The smell of mediterranean salt water, of sweetened lemon and garlic lingered through the entire apartment and I could tell it was time to remove the octopus. The ends were crispy and the flesh tender and juicy inside of a roasted crust. The onions tumbled on one plate, sticky, caramel and sweet and on the other plate the legs stacked up one on top of another. To finish, I squeezed over the juice of the steaming lemon and added one final crack of pepper.

We invited a couple of friends over for aperitivo and shared the meal on the balcony with a few bottles of rose (ofcourse). First cooked meal in Paris... tick! tick! tick!!